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Counseling appointments up in UI employee program

BY JENNIFER DELGADO | APRIL 03, 2009 7:37 AM

More UI employees and their family members are seeking counseling from the UI Employee Assistance Program — and officials expect the number to climb.

In March, the program’s officials hired a temporary therapist to accommodate the growing number of people asking for appointments. Earlier this year, they created another counseling location in the University Capitol Centre, in addition to the offices in the UI Hospitals and Clinics and University Services Building.

The new site has extended evening hours, which will help the facility see more people, officials said.

“Over the last four months, we have seen a steady growth in referrals and calls,” said program assistant Jennifer Montgomery. “We’re seeing stress from work carrying into people’s home lives.”

The Employee Assistance Program offers four free counseling sessions to university employees and their immediate family members. Individuals can talk to licensed counselors or social workers about numerous topics — job stress, marital disagreements, among others.

Some of the stress comes from the economic environment and the flood’s effect on the university. Officials said employees using the program are worried about the future of their jobs.

During counseling sessions, faculty and staff address such concerns as depression and anxiety, marriage and relationship problems, and family problems, said Joan Rinner, a program consultant and counselor.

“I think there’s a lot of stress out there,” she said. “I think relationships are all affected by these issues.”

Rinner, who has been a counselor since 1993, said these concerns are common among university employees across the nation.

Officials said they think the client increase is a positive sign — it means more people are seeking resources to deal with their problems.

“That’s what we’re here for,” Montgomery said. “We want to find constructive ways to deal with their concerns.”

It is common to see a spike in individuals using the clinic during stressful events, she said. But officials don’t know if the trend will force the organization to hire more temporary counselors.

“We think it’s going to get fuller,” Montgomery said. “Anytime you have stressful events, I think you’re going to see more people using the [program].”


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